Pictures from a Recent Editorial Trip through Dallas:
  Stephan Pyles
  York Street
  Kitchen 1924
  Restaurant Salum
  Petit Fours Cakes
  Heston Blumenthal's Sweet Shop
  Play with Your Food at Luqa
  Technique: Pacojet Ice Cream
  Fabio Trabocchi's New Cookbook
  Recently Tasted vol. 4
  Caribbean Wines
  On the Plate vol.7


Letter From the Editor Vol.12

Dallas and the Texan Culinary Landscape

February 2007

After spending two intensive weeks tasting with chefs in Dallas—from fine dining to bistro and pastry shop to hotels, we’ve got a lot to share! The wide-ranging scene in Dallas—from roadside Tex-Mex trailers to fine dining offers its diners thrills…

Fine dining takes on many exciting forms—see how David Gilbert’s interactive, modern dishes at Luqa manage to make high-concept accessible in our Play with Your Food feature. Fine dining is subtly Southwestern at Stephan Pyles where Pyles and pastry chef Katherine Clapner’s whimsical but sophisticated dishes incorporate traditional Peruvian techniques and ingredients. Even the charming and elegant space reveals Pyle’s passion for all things Texan in understated touches like blown glass lamps reminiscent of cacti and a floating tumbleweed art installation.

Women run two of the most brilliant restaurants in town. At Local Tracy Miller’s vision comes together in delicately composed dishes and high concept minimalist design that retains a sense of warmth and personality. Similarly, at York Street, Sharon Hage sends out some of the most well-balanced and deeply-flavored dishes in Dallas from her miniscule kitchen. While Craft doesn’t seem to fit in this mold (Chef Kevin Maxey is neither a woman nor the owner of his restaurant) his rustic and elegant dishes carry the same unpretentious, soulful vibe and tend to focus on just a few seasonal flavors.

While familiar chain restaurants dominate the casual dining scene in Dallas, there are plenty of chef-driven concepts where personal and polished dishes arrive in an intimate and casual atmosphere. Doug Brown and Jason Foss’ Amuse in the South Side is a bustling, comfortable space packed with diners looking for high quality, down-to-earth food on a budget. At Kitchen 1924, Colleen O’Hare’s bistro-inspired dishes convey a real sense of who she is as a chef with the simplicity of hemp-seeded crusted frog legs. Abraham Salum plays with Southern fundamentals in Restaurant Salum, covering shrimp in crispy hush puppy batter as part of his comfort-centric menu.

As many chefs confided, food industry trends that start in New York or San Francisco and move inward, take a little longer to reach the Lone Star state. It seems that with Nobu’s recent opening, the trend of modern Asian fusion is only just starting to catch on. At restaurants like Shinsei, Casey Thompson and Shuji Shugawara pair sweet glazed short ribs with soba noodles or raw tuna with jalapenos. Downtown at self-proclaimed “Tex-Asian” Fuse, Blaine Staniford experiments with savory cauliflower panna cottas, spicy curry oil, and hard-boiled quail eggs, garnished with crispy pork rinds. Check out Staniford's, along with other Dallas chefs' notable presentations, in our On the Plate feature.

While the city is remarkably low on pastry chefs (lots of kitchens outsource or have their chef de cuisine develop the menu for both sections) there are a couple of stand out pastry-focused shops. These Texan bakeries and patisseries aren’t all about large portions and high sugar content. Standards for presentation and flavor are high at Doughmonkey, where Rhonda Ruckman creates modern, elegantly composed desserts and sells her wholesale pastries to a number of Dallas restaurants lacking in the pastry chef department. At Petit Fours Cakes, Bill Hunter creates a full sweet and savory tea service with miniature layered cakes and scrumptious finger sandwiches.

So many chefs are shaping the Texan culinary landscape plate by plate that you should expect a lot more Dallas chefs on StarChefs in the upcoming months as we share our findings. And stay tuned for our Dallas Rising Stars announcements.

Antoinette Bruno




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